Stern's Guide to the Greatest Resorts of the World, Stern's Guide to the Cruise Vacation, Stern's Guide to European Riverboats and Hotel Barges, and The Indispensable Guide to Foreign Words and Phrases--by Steven B. Stern (Sponsored by Stern's Travel Guides, Ltd.)
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The Best Resort in the World (Four Seasons Bora Bora)
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(Four Seasons Bora Bora)


          Over the past 35 years, I have traveled to 5-star resorts around the globe researching "Stern's Guide to the Greatest Resorts of the World". Over this period I had the pleasure of visiting the world's most lavish, unique and romantic properties.

          Frequently, my readers ask me which is the best of all the resorts, or which is my favorite. Certainly any   response would be a matter of opinion, and influenced by what aspect of a resort is most important to the party responding, i.e., the beauty of the grounds and structures, the comfort of the accommodations, the dining experiences, the sport and other facilities, the service or the overall uniqueness of the property.

          For this observer, the resort that has it all has to be Four Seasons Bora Bora in French Polynesia. Here one finds a gorgeous tropical paradise with every inch adorned with the most colorful vegetation, expansive, exotic accommodations, lovely white sand beaches and tropical lagoons.  This resort can boast having every desirable facility, attentive service, a variety of dining options, an outstanding spa, equipment for all water sports, a professional tennis facility,  and activities for children, all in a serene, pleasing environment.

          Set on its own motu (small island) in Bora Bora's surrounding coral atoll, this 54 acre property is a vast tropical grove replete with coconut palms, pandanus trees and meandering channels of pure turquoise streams. One hundred over-water bungalow suites, seven beachfront villa estates, four restaurants and the full service spa are all designed with thatched roofs and decorated with indigenous art work to capture the beauty and culture of the island. Although the structures  have Polynesian exteriors, the interiors are upscale, modern and conform to Four Seasons' high standards.

          Each of the 100 air-conditioned, over-water bungalow suites, located on branching piers extending into the lagoon, measures over 1,100 square feet (twice the size of the other resorts in Bora Bora) and features unobstructed sunrise views of the Pacific and sunset vistas over the lagoon and the towering iconic Mount Otemanu. These luxury accommodations include a very large, spacious living room with a flat screen TV and video on demand, a DVD/CD player, a stocked refrigerator, a writing desk and large sitting area; a bedroom with a  king-size bed, a second flat screen TV, several dressers, ceiling fans made of coconut palms  and a walk-in closet/storage area; a bathroom with a soaking tub overlooking panoramic views of the lagoon, his and her sink vanities,  separate shower and toilet compartments  and a hairdryer;  and a large sundeck with chaise lounges, a covered dining area, and a lower dock with a ladder extending to the water below with a rinsing shower. Pull-out sofas in the living areas can accommodate families.

          There also are 2,228 square-foot, 2 bedroom over-water bungalow suites, some with plunge pools.

          The seven ultra-luxury beach villa estates range in size from 2,772 square feet for a one bedroom, 3,228 square feet for a two bedroom to 5,380 square feet for a three bedroom.  Each of these villa estates has its own private pool, access to a private beach, and too many amenities to list.

          Transportation throughout the property is available at all times by staff-driven carts.

          Lunch and dinner are available at the Fare Hoa Beach Bar and Grill by the pool, dinner on the porch or inside the fine dining Arii Moana Restaurant, and a large buffet breakfast at the semi open air Fare Terre Nui. Drinks and an Asian/sushi menu are featured at the Sunset Restaurant and Bar. Guests can also opt for a romantic beachfront dinner, as well as a special breakfast brought by canoe to the outdoor porch of their bungalow.

          There is a well-equipped fitness center, and the outstanding spa features seven air-conditioned treatment rooms with open-air decks. Available free of charge are a water therapy pool, a steam room, a sensory shower and a relaxation room. Yoga and pilates classes are offered daily.

          At the resort's 131 square-foot infinity swimming pool embedded with a large heated whirlpool, attendants provide ice water, chilled towels and Evian spritz. Thatched roof cabanas line the pool area.  Next to the pool is the sprawling  white sand beach. A wide range of water sports is available such as snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaks, standing paddleboats, Hobie Cats, windsurfing, fishing charters,  guided tours in wave runners and  motorized canoes for diving, ray and shark feeding. A professional tennis program is available, as well as beach volleyball and beach badminton.

          "Kids for all Seasons" supervised program designed for children ages 5-12 makes the resort a good choice for families.

          All of this luxury does not come cheap, however, for those that can afford it , there is nothing better at any price.


Steven B. Stern

Author of  "Stern's Guide to the Greatest Resorts of the World", "Stern's Guide to the Cruise Vacation", Stern's Guide to European Riverboats and Hotel Barges",  and  "The Indispensable Guide to Foreign Words and Phrases". All can be seen on his web site at or on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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